As part of its criminal justice efforts, St. Louis University has teamed with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis to sponsor a program giving people with a criminal past a second chance at a better future.
The “Partnership for Success Career Fair” for ex-offenders will be held April 10 in Chaifetz Arena on the SLU campus.
St. Louis University already provides educational opportunities for incarcerated people and prison staff at a state facility in Bonne Terre, Mo., and a federal correctional institution in Greenville, Ill. More than 4,500 people have been educated through the SLU Prison Program since its launch in 2008.
SLU also partners with the City of St. Louis Division of Corrections in an initiative to support incarcerated women before and after they’re released from the St. Louis jail and the medium-security institution on Hall Street. A similar program for men is planned as well. The goal is to help incarcerated individuals re-acclimate to the community and be productive, law-abiding citizens.
A 2015 study by the Manhattan Institute showed that employment reduces recidivism, and the sooner ex-offenders are employed, the less likely they will be to commit future crimes.
Jesuit Father Christopher Collins, assistant to the president for mission and identity at St. Louis University, said the SLU initiatives imitate Jesus. “As a Catholic institution, in a special way we always try to go to the margins to help incorporate people back into the human family and also provide the healing and encouragement they need to flourish” as God intended, Father Collins said.
The career fair is expected to draw employers from a variety of industries. Organizers are promoting the benefits of hiring ex-offenders, including tax credits and free insurance through a federal bonding program.
Michael P. McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc., stated in a press release that the fair will offer “second-chance opportunities.” Through the Urban League Save Our Sons program, he said, “we have worked diligently to provide comprehensive services to this population as well.”
In addition to SLU and the Urban League, the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and Ferguson 1000, as well as the U.S. Probation Office, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Missouri Department of Corrections are partnering on the fair. Job News USA is providing logistical support.